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Anyone who consumed music through the end of the 80s and start of the 90s is probably astounded by quite how influential the dreamy indie of 4AD and Creation has become. Sure, the NME and those other lost music mags raved about it, but back then “proper music” was very much a minority interest. Now bands like Cults (at the poppy end) and Washed Out (at the woozy end) are dominating the ears of those who carry tote bags of obscure record labels as they shop in Rounder and Resident.
Twin Sister fall somewhere in the middle of the two ends of the scene – but that’s not to say they are MOR. In fact it’s probably more correct to say they fall at both extremes. Full of ideas, their ‘In Heaven’ LP bounces from delicate Galaxie 500 oddness to almost electronic pop. It’s one of the most atmospheric and emotional listens of the year, something that has tempted a mix of young hipsters and old musos to Sticky Mike’s.
Anyone not familiar with ‘In Heaven’ might mistake Twin Sister as being European rather than from New York. Vocalist Andrea Estella has a touch of The Knife’s Karin about her vocals, which aren’t obviously fully formed English words. Rooted to the mic stand, she looks lost – like girls in quirky indie films do when they've just woken up. As if to match, the music remains dreamy but has an electronic kick that stands out more than on the album. It’s as if Slowdive had listened to techno on the wrong speed while falling asleep. A slight edge of Chris Isaac-style surf guitar lends a Lynchian edge to the set – or perhaps it’s the blue light that bathes the band.
The highlight of the set is single ‘Gene Ciampi’, which sounds like it’s come from one of those amazing disco-influenced Bollywood soundtracks. When the rest of the band leave the stage to Andrea and singing guitarist Eric Cardona, Twin Sister show that it’s about the songs rather than the soundscapes, coming on like a stripped back Mazzy Star.
There’s no doubt that Twin Sister have enough ideas and charm to stand out from the chillwave pack, something Pitchfork readers think too, voting them Best Hope For 2011 in last year’s poll. Tonight’s audience undoubtedly feel they delivered on that.
Words and pictures by James Kendall
Date: Thursday 3rd November 2011